Cervical spinal stenosis or cervical spinal compressions is a neurological condition associated with fibromyalgia syndrome that can cause great discomfort. Also referred to as cervical stenosis, this condition has symptoms that are similar to common fibromyalgia symptoms and current studies are investigating whether individuals with fibromyalgia syndrome have higher incidences of cervical spinal stenosis.
What is Cervical Spinal Stenosis?
Cervical spinal stenosis is a condition that affects an individual’s spinal canal. The spinal canal runs the length of the spine and is located behind the vertebrae (bony blocks of the spinal canal). Running from the brain throughout the body, the spinal canal contains the spinal cord as well as the nerve roots, which are central to proper neurological functioning.
In cervical spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal occurs. This spinal constriction results in irritation and tightening of the nerves and can also cause a blockage of cerebrospinal fluid, thereby affecting the nervous system.
Cause of Cervical Spinal Stenosis
There are a variety of causes that can lead to cervical stenosis. This condition can occur due to the following factors:
- congenital condition
- cervical disc disease
- spinal injury
- spinal degeneration related to aging
Cervical Spinal Stenosis Symptoms
The following symptoms are commonly experienced in individuals with cervical spinal stenosis:
Pain linked to cervical stenosis is slow as opposed to acute and usually develops over many years. In addition, it is not continuous in nature.
In some cases, cervical stenosis can result in paralysis.
Cervical Stenosis and Fibromyalgia Syndrome
Cervical stenosis symptoms are very similar to nature to common fibromyalgia symptoms, such as pain and weakness.
In addition, cervical spinal stenosis has been linked by some researchers as the main cause of fibromyalgia, as well as the main cause of another related fibromyalgia condition, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Researchers are currently trying to determine whether fibromyalgia patients have a higher rate of incidence of spinal cord compression.
A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is used to verify whether an individual has cervical stenosis.
An MRI scan uses radiofrequency waves and a powerful magnetic field in order to produce clear images of the soft tissue that surrounds and is located next to bones.
Cervical Stenosis Treatment
Two main treatment options are available for individuals with cervical stenosis: activity modification and cervical stenosis surgery.
Individuals with less severe forms of this condition can modify their daily routines so as to avoid back injury. However, individuals with more severe cases of cervical stenosis require back surgery. During surgery, the spinal disc is removed and the disc span is opened to allow more space for the nerves. This helps to alleviate symptoms such as pain and side effects, such as discomfort, are usually mild.
Cervical spinal stenosis surgery requires an overnight hospital stay; recovery time is 2 to 6 weeks, after which an individual can return to her normal activities.